Monday, 25 May 2015

The Eco Pool

Opening day at the new outdoor swimming pool at Kings Cross.  Aquatic plants, nutrient minerals and a filtering system create a chemically free swimming pool.  Bathers will be limited to 163 per day determined by the amount of water the system can clean.  It is intended that the public will learn more about the harmony of nature, a wee sanctuary in the bustle of the ever growing Kings Cross.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Ted meets a sailor

... yes a real one this time (don't ask ok ...) and his name is Jerry. I used to think that I didn’t really like anything in the alcohol spirit line that was brown unless it was made from grapes. Then visiting friends from a faraway island nation who shall remain nameless (Paul and Chrissie) arrived with “Sailor Jerry” a "spiced" Caribbean rum in their duty free. So I looked this Jerry dude up … and unlike other marketing gimmicks that simply make people up (sorry to tell you that Betty Crocker never existed) there is a real Sailor Jerry and his name is Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins. Not only was he a sailor, but he went on to become the “father of old school tattooing” in the originally very rough district of Hotel Street in Honolulu, Hawaii, where sailors and soldiers alike gathered for a last big blow out before literally being shipped off to war … many of them never to return.

Rum is made from sugar cane and hence no doubt why I like it. It has an adult sweet character to it, especially the spiced rum – it’s like a Caribbean version of Christmas mulled wine, as it has lovely spices in the blend. I know that rum and butterflies are inextricably interlinked in the Caribbean. The butterflies can smell the ripeness in the sugar cane so when they begin to arrive the farmers start the harvest of the cane and they leave the butterflies a “share” … which is great as butterflies are essentially blind and smell is their thing .. but they really should find out about the "angels' share" of Cognac and get themselves a better deal ...

Apparently (because I am just learning about all of this) you do not necessarily use the same mixers for spiced rum as you would for other rum or whisky or whiskey even. I have to tell you that the best mixers are Fever-Tree hands down … we can get booze anywhere but we can’t yet get Fever-Tree everywhere we travel ... and once you taste it trust me like us you'll be packing it in your luggage too. It's refreshing in more ways than one, as not only does it taste great, but these guys are serious about their ethical sourcing policy and community support - they really put their money where their mouth is ...

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Pulse and Bloom

Heartbeats create colour and when two heartbeats beat together they will gradually beat in sync.

This is how artist Shilo Shiv Suleman's "Pulse and Bloom" art instillation works.  Each lotus bloom has two hand shaped sensors on it, by pressing your hand on the sensor it translates your heartbeat into pulsing led lights.

The installation is part of the Alchemy festival at Southbank, a bit of Bollywood all Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Photo London

London's new photo festival with events and exhibitions around the city promises something for every photography professional, collector and enthusiast.   Somerset House is hosting more than 70 international galleries.  Exhibitions include "Beneath the Surface" from the V&A collection,  Sebastiao Salgado's "Genesis in Platinum" and Kaveh Golestan's "Prostitiute".  In the courtyard is a specially commissioned piece by Rut Blees Luxemburg "The Teaser" is in the courtyard.

Photo London runs until Sunday 24 May.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

An Hour from London

A stroll along the beach, fish and chips, boutique shopping in the Lanes and a quirky medieval all just an hour from London.  What's not to like about Brighton?

For more than 700 years fishing was the main industry of Brighton with Herring and Mackerel being the biggest catches.  Land in the area was used to grow hemp to make ropes and flax to make sails for the fishing boats.

Although fishing has steadily declined, a fleet of more than 10,000 boats is now just a mere handful, more are to be found in the museum than on the water.  However the traditional festivals are very much alive.  The annual Mackerel Fayre and the "blessing of the nets" took place last Sunday.  In the past this blessing ensured the coffers of the church were kept healthy, but as the industry declined so did the payments.  Now days it is a charming festival and a reminder of the past.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Creative Watch

Clerkenwell is the home of the creative set in London whether it be architects, designers or artists.  For three days (19-20 May) the entire area is buzzing during the Clerkenwell Design Week Festival.  An international event that showcases the latest creations and designs.  Whether you are looking for a space age office, an eco house or the quirkiest lamp in the world, you will find it.

A concept car that isn't sure if it is a scooter or a car, a chair covered with hand woven textiles from Guatemala and rug made to any design you want were some of what I saw while sheltering from the torrential rain and hailstones yesterday.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Monday, 18 May 2015

A Victorian Beauty

The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the motivation for a railway line from West End London to Crystal Palace.  In 1858 a joint enterprise with Victoria Station and four rail companies was set up to take the trains over the river and on to the seaside in the south.  A glamorous Victoria Station with a 300 bedroom hotel alongside it opened in 1862.

The Victorians might be impressed to know over 70 million people a year are still travelling through here.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Ted springs into spring

.. I really like spring … ahhh the spring showers and the hay fever season not!! But wait, here come the really delicious, flavoursome, and attractive fruits and vegetables that mark the passing of the boring brassicas of winter.  The best of the best right now are asparagus, strawberries and rhubarb.

St George’s day on the 23rd of April marks the official start of the asparagus season, and after a couple of weeks they are at their juicy best, bursting with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, all just waiting to be smothered in a rich buttery lemony (or try blood orange for a fantastic alternative) bĂ©arnaise sauce.  The Romans were so fond of asparagus that they carried it from the coastal areas where it grew to high up in the alps to freeze it so that they could have it at their various feasts throughout the year …. that’s one very very long trip to the refrigerator isn’t it.

Wild strawberries have been consumed by humans and animals since forever, but it actually wasn't until the late 18th century that the modern garden strawberry was first bred and grown in France.  Despite giving this gift to the world, today France doesn’t even figure in the top 10 strawberry producing nations. The top honour goes to the USA who produce 4 times as much number 2 (Turkey since you ask, yes you did I heard you) and over 25% of the entire strawberry production in the world.

And finally we come to rhubarb. If your rhubarb has been grown in what’s known as the “Rhubarb Triangle” in West Yorkshire then it will also have the EU Protected Designation of Origin classification, a status that it shares with 41 other British foodstuffs, like Cornish pasties and Melton Mowbray pork pies, as well European cousins like Champagne, Burgundy, and Parmigiano-Reggiano (that’s Parmesan cheese to us non cheesemonger types). I took my rhubarb as a filling in a sweet little cake form today … yum yum yum … I had several as they were little and this was research after all ...

Oh I almost forget … rhubarb is high in vitamin K which is widely believed to help in delaying or even preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Saturday, 16 May 2015


Heathrow was relatively quiet yesterday, but maybe it was just this terminal.  The debate for a new runway has heated up again.  Should Heathrow have a new runway or would it be better at Gatwick.  Boris (London's mayor and now MP ) favoured building one in the Thames Estuary. Locals at Heathrow are very anti the Heathrow option not only for the increased flights but the additional traffic on the roads.  Last month more than 6 million passengers passed through here.  Whatever the final outcome there will be mixed reactions.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Gift Horse

Around the front legs of the skeleton horse is an electronic ticker tape showing the prices on London's stock exchange.  A symbol of the excesses of the market and a reference to the statue of William IV on a horse that was originally intended for the plinth but never happened due to a lack of funds.

Artist and sculptor Hans Haacke says the work is "an invitation to think about whether the invisible hand of the market does promote general welfare or whether there's a misunderstanding, or whether it is totally wrong."

Looking a gift horse in the mouth takes on a whole new meaning.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Imagine a Swimming Pool

Kids of all ages, we all love playing in the water.  Fountains are fun but a swimming pool would be even more fun.

Once upon a time before there were cars and airplanes and the internet, people swam in the sea and the rivers.  The Thames was full of fish and even royalty swam in its crystal clear waters.   As recently as Victorian times, taking a dip in the Thames was a popular past time.  However  the mighty Thames was also used as a dumping place for effluent from industry and raw sewerage.  The fish died and the water became so unsafe that swimming was banned by law.

Now we are spending millions to clean the waters of the Thames.  The fish are returning and multiple filtering enables us to drink it.   Once the new super £4.2 billion sewer system is completed (in 2023) we should even be able to swim in the river again.

Thames Baths Lido has a plan to enable us to swim in crystal clear waters by Spring 2017!  They launched their plan for a pontoon swimming pool three weeks ago.  It's a rather cool plan.  The edges of the pontoon not only look pretty with plants but it is actually a filtering system (no chemicals) that makes the water super clean and keeps it lovely and soft, just as nature intended.  It is then pumped into pools on the pontoon.  They even plan to heat it so we can swim all year round.  Imagine that!

© Studio Octopi + Picture Plane

They've drawn up a couple of models, with one option being moored by City Hall and the other on Victoria Embankment by Blackfriars Bridge.  You can share the project (or even give them money) on their kickstarter page here.  If it all goes according to plan a stroll along the Thames path could include a refreshing dip in it yet again ... pack your swimming costume so you're ready.

© Studio Octopi + Picture Plane

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Shakespeare Lives

Next year will be the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.  To celebrate his life and work the British Council and IdeasTap have launched a global photography competition.  They are looking for images that represent Shakespeare in a modern and refreshing way.  The 10 winning entries will receive £300 and their work will be used in the publicity throughout 2016.   Entires open 25 May 2015, details here.  Get your cameras out and your creative ideas flowing.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015


The wisteria tumbling over the brick wall makes such a pretty sight.
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